PICKERING Town boss Jimmy Reid reckons a “settled and stronger” side has helped them hit the heights in the Northern Counties East League premier division.

His men rose to seventh in the table, their highest placing of the campaign, after beating Maltby Main 2-0 at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

It followed a 6-2 triumph over Armthorpe Welfare in midweek.

Reid hailed the influence of Steve Baxter and goalkeeper Dave Bramley against Maltby, with Pickering overcoming a strong start from the visitors to record another clean sheet and pick up three points.

“It was strong Maltby team, but I can’t remember our ’keeper making a clear-cut save,” said Reid. “It’s another clean sheet at home. The past three weeks have been really good and we are now seventh in the league.”

Last night (Tuesday), the Pikes were hoping to add cup glory to their impressive run of form when they played Grangetown Boys Club in the quarter-final of the North Riding Senior Cup.

They resume league action on Saturday away to Hall Road Rangers.

Joseph Austin, Ben Langford and Craig Gladwin all went close for Maltby in the opening 10 minutes of last Saturday’s game, and the visitors also had a goal disallowed for offside.

Chris Gowan and Liam Salt replied with efforts for the Pikes before home ’keeper Bramley saved well to prevent Austin opening the scoring on the quarter-hour mark.It was a midfield battle but Salt somehow shot wide on 32 minutes when, following a long clearance, he broke clear and went round Jamie Bailey in the Maltby goal.

Liam Shepherd had a great shot superbly saved by Bailey but, two minutes before half-time, the former York City winger got his rewards.

A right-wing cross by Lewis Taylor found Shepherd unmarked and his shot from 22 yards was superbly struck, taking a slight deflection on its way into the net.

Maltby were again the brighter of the two sides after the break and Bramley was forced into action just a minute into the second period to prevent Sam Foulds equalising from 30 yards.

Five minutes later, Adam Houghton crossed from the left only for Matthew Plant to miss the easiest of chances, and it was the spur the Pikes needed to take control of the game once again.

John Heads and Joe Danby both went close to grabbing the second goal, which finally arrived with three minutes remaining.

Danby’s effort was partially saved and Baxter nipped in to net from 10 yards.

History was made with the referee being Jane Simms from West Yorkshire. It was the first time Pickering had hosted a female referee in a home first-team game Pickering: Bramley, Reid, Gowan, Readman, Sturdy, Taylor (Braithwaite 72), Patterson, Heads, Baxter, Salt (Danby 48), Shepherd (Dalton 85). Subs not used: Cass, Fenwick.

Last Tuesday, the Pikes entertained Armthorpe and won 6-2 with Salt, Taylor and Heads all scoring twice.

Pickering: Bramley, Reid, Gowan, Readman, Sturdy, Taylor, Baxter, Patterson, Danby (Heads 56), Salt (Fenwick 79), Shepherd (Dalton 71). Subs not used: Braithwaite, Cass.